Local Indian handset vendor Intex has announced plans to launch an Android 2.2 powered handset during the first week of February that will retail for 5,500 Indian rupees or roughly $120 US dollars. It’s going to pack a 3.2 megapixel camera, 2.8 inch resistive touch screen, and not much else is known in terms of specifications. Comparably priced models are the Micromax Andro A60, again produced by a local Indian vendor, and while the price tag is a bit higher, coming in at $155, it includes WiFi, GPS, 3G, but sadly runs Android 2.1 so features such as the ability to create a wireless hotspot are not included. Then there’s the Ideos by Chinese firm Huawei; it runs a stock version of Android 2.2, is priced at $150, and it comes with a capacitive screen of the same size and resolution.
Prices are falling faster than anyone could have predicated, and surprisingly the most expensive component these days is the screen. Samsung is in the process of building a factory, due to launch during the summer of 2011, that should increase the amount of displays they produce for mobile phones from the current 3 million per month figure to over 30 million per month. Will that accelerate price erosion? Most likely. Samsung recently lost their number two position in the Indian market to unknown Chinese handset vendor G’Five, but that shouldn’t really matter since they sell many of the components that go into handsets from nearly everyone.
All this makes us wonder: does making feature phones even make sense anymore? Are we going to see sub $100 or even sub $50 smartphones come out during the next 3 to 5 years? It seems rather obvious that it’s already taking place, with Strategy Analytics saying that 20% of all mobile phones sold in Q3 2010 ran some sort of smartphone operating system. At the current rate of growth, that number should exceed 50% by 2014.